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Gun community stands strong against WHSmith ban on children buying shooting magazines

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: October 23, 2012

Shooting

The gun community is encouraging people to write letters of complaint to WHSmith and sign a petition to see the ban overturned - photo courtesy of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation

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Britain’s gun community is continuing to battle against WHSmith’s decision to ban under-14s from buying shooting magazines, by launching a petition and encouraging people to send letters of complaint to the newsagent.

The move, which has seen ‘till prompts’ introduced in a number of WHSmith stores to check the age of customers buying shooting magazines, prompted outrage amongst the gun community earlier this month.

Organisations such as Countryside Alliance and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) slammed the ban as “ignorant” and a “knee-jerk reaction to an extremist campaign" on behalf of animal rights activists Animal Aid, and urged the retailer to reconsider.

Despite the backlash, WHSmith indicated it is sticking by its policy. A spokesperson said: “WHSmith aims to offer its customers choice, whilst striking the right balance and not acting as a censor.

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“WHSmith seeks to do its best to satisfy all of its customers who often have strongly opposing views. We have not made any recent changes to the way we sell or display shooting magazines.”

In recent weeks a number of pro-gun organisations have launched campaigns to see the ban overturned, encouraging their members to sign a petition and write to WHSmith to express their objection.

Countryside Alliance has listed the contact details of the retailer’s Chairman Walker Boyd on its website, while BASC is urging members to leave a comment on WHSmith’s Facebook page and vote in an online poll.

Both are advising people to sign an online petition, “WHsmiths: Retract Policy on Sale of Shooting Magazines”, which has so far attracted 7,182 signatures.

Speaking to This is Cornwall Simon Clarke, a spokesperson for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said: “We are getting conflicting reports from around the country about how the policy is being applied.

“Some tills appear to have it while other don’t; some are putting the magazines on the top shelves.

“BASC members have been involved in a widespread campaign both online and in person to change this policy. It makes no sense whatsoever. Young people who can quite legally use shot guns and firearms are being prevented from buying magazines on the whim of a retailer.

“The magazines concerned promote best practice, safety and conservation. There’s nothing in there to damage minds.”

Meanwhile David Taylor, shooting campaign manager at Countryside Alliance, said: “It’s got everyone fired up. The whole of the shooting community is angry about this.

“And it’s not just WHSmith banning shooting magazines for under-14s, it’s WHSmith judging what people can and cannot do. They should not be doing this when it is a perfectly legal thing to do.”

Mr Taylor added: “We think it’s ridiculous. There does not seem to be any logical reason for it.

“If you want to use a shotgun there’s no minimum age, although you can’t buy one until you’re 18. People can have a shotgun certificate at any age. It’s the same thing for air rifles and target shooting.

“So this ‘age 14’ cuts out a lot of people who can legally shoot. It’s a spurious suggestion to say 14 is the age when people can buy magazines.

“Young people who are interested in it, the magazines tell them how to care for the countryside. There’s nothing in them which a young person should not be able to see.”

Mr Taylor continued: “We have been talking to WHSmith; we are in negotiations with them to try to get the change. We have been encouraging our members to write in to WHSmith to tell them what they think.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) also expressed its frustration. Its CEO Derrick Mabbott said: “It shows that they [WHSmith] haven’t really looked into what these magazines are and what they stand for, and it would be a good idea to try to read some of their own material that they are selling.

“All of these magazines that are sold through WHSmith are supporting an appropriate, legitimate and responsible use of firearms, rather than promoting some sort of gun culture.”

Asked how the NRA viewed WHSmith’s apparent reluctance to reconsider, Mr Mabbott said: “Clearly that is their commercial decision and they have every right to take that decision; I just feel saddened.”

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  • twain1  |  October 26 2012, 11:52PM

    ReeceFowler Friday, October 26 2012, 7:17AM I note your position and thank you for your reply. As a parting shot (:-)) I like to add that I've been a hunter, albeit as a child, but was profoundly moved by animals bred to be killed, their pathetic defencelessness as the wounded dragged their bodies in agony and realised it was terribly wrong. I felt sickened at what I'd done and vowed to prevent unnecessary cruelty to animals where ever I could. We have no right to inflict death, fear and misery for 'sport', that is a sick perversion, or even to eat, we do not need to kill ANY animal to live healthily. THAT is a choice NOT a necessity. You would not shoot your cat or dog for fun or to eat so why do you think it 'natural' or 'ok' to do it to other animals?

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  • ReeceFowler  |  October 26 2012, 7:17AM

    twain1, My view on shooting is that if you are shooting for no other reason than sport, you should always eat what you shoot. As long as the meat is eaten, I see no problem with that. Game shoots sell their shot game to game dealers, and some may be given away to members of the shoot. Virtually without exception, all shot game ends up in the human food chain. In fact, surveys show that the main reason most people support shooting is because the meat is eaten. Sometimes you can make a sport out of pest control, whether it's to protect agriculture, or to protect wildlife. I see no problem with that either. This debate is starting to circle a bit, so this will probably be my last reply. This is where I stand on the issue.

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  • twain1  |  October 25 2012, 11:58PM

    ReeceFowler Hat tip for your admirable knowledge. You do not state if you are are shooter, hunter, game keeper or what interest you have in your argument. It does not matter. What I will ask of you, as I respect your knowledge in respect of animals and conservation, that you condemn game shooting for 'sport'; I may be wrong, but I feel that you are a lot better that. Shooting/hunting for amusement must be outlawed; the supremacist mindset that says we can inflict death for gain/amusement/prejudice whether it is animal or human quarry is one of the same perversion, we will not evolve until we overcome the fascist mindset. You have touched upon the abuse of animals in factory farming too. Whilst we present it as acceptable to breed them in appalling circumstances merely to kill them in their prime, the psyche accepts animals as mere unfeeling objects even though they hypocritically consider themselves 'animal lovers' towards their cosseted pets. Finally, how would you feel if your pet was shot and served up on a plate by a 'hunter?' Bon appetite.

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  • ReeceFowler  |  October 25 2012, 10:37PM

    Sorry about the typos.

  • ReeceFowler  |  October 25 2012, 10:36PM

    twain1, While conditions on some game farms can be bad, many do have good welfare standards. It is usually up to the gamekeeper to source his birds from a game farm known to have good welfare standards. Of course there are always going to be some bad eggs who do things the wrong way. Many estates also rely on wild birds, or rear their own. Also, shooting magazines do not just cover driven pheasant shooting. Animal abuse is only abuse if the animals suffer. If they are kileld quickly and painlessly, they do not suffer. Driven pheasant shooting is done for both sport and food. As long as the meat is eate, I see no problem with sport shooting. The demand for game meat has also increased in recent years. As for commonts about pests, I can think of many species which need to be controlled: rabbits - can do immense damage to crops pigeons - ditto deer - due to lack of natural predators, they are overpopulated and severely damaging woodland grey squirrels - wiping out our red squirrels and affecting songbirds mink - wiping out our water voles and severely impacting water birds rats - spread disease, steal grain from farms and they also eat bird eggs and can impact on breeding populations of birds crows - steal eggs, and can severely impact on vulnerable species foxes - predator which can impact on vulnerable species stoats - ditto For many vulnerable species, such as grey partridge, capercaillie and black grouse, predator control is recognised as essential for the survival of the species, as they have declined to a point where they are extremely vulnerable. The RSPB have proved this with experiments in the field, such as at Abernethy forest in the 90s. Then you have the non native invasive species such as grey squirrels which are another proven threat to wildlife. Maybe someone else could add to that list? These are just off the top of my head.

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  • twain1  |  October 25 2012, 9:52PM

    ReeceFowler Thursday, October 25 2012, 7:31AM Your comments on factory farming are appreciated, and reminds me of a twisted reply given by a MD factory farmer when asked if they thought sow stalls were cruel, he replied 'has anyone asked a sow?' Quite. And no one has asked animals if they think their breeding for death for the amusement of some hunters is abuse. But then game bird production borrows from factory farming as well: ''ANIMAL Aid has released a film and report this month from an undercover investigation into 'game bird' production in England. On a series of covert visits, our investigators filmed a large number of dead and ailing chicks, as well as the disposal areas of some establishments crawling with maggots. Every year, some 50 million pheasants and partridges are bred to be shot. The footage obtained during the spring and summer of this year records how, step by ugly step, the British 'game bird' industry has 'upscaled' production methods to the point where direct comparisons with the broiler chicken industry are now appropriate. And, because it costs at least 100 times more to produce and get a pheasant airborne than the dead bird will earn for the shoot when sold to a dealer, it is clear that these birds are produced to be killed for 'sport' rather than for food.'' Causing fear, death, maiming, injury IS abuse, only a fool would argue contrary. I am not prejudiced other than my dislike for any supremacist inflicting misery on humans or animals. The reason I am vegan was because I was indoctrinated into shooting and hunting when I was young and I was disgusted by what I saw. Birds in agony dragging their wings etc. Hunters laughing at an animals death agonies. Others totally indifferent. Anyone who could witness such atrocity and carry on needs (imo) psychiatric help. It made me think about how our lifestyles cause misery to animals we don't call pets, and how that misery is not much different to Nazi fascism. What humans consider 'pests' are anything that effects his profit or that he chooses for 'sport' As the biggest pests on Earth humans are the biggest hypocrites.

  • ReeceFowler  |  October 25 2012, 7:31AM

    twain1, "And I'll defend the shooters right to to free speech because they are their own worse enemies. Any criticism of their activities is usually met with aggression and abuse, usually founded on their vivid imaginations. Also they were very 'animated' in their fox hunting riots weren't they? You will find many articles on the internet regarding animal abuse and murderers but I see you don't quibble about the animal and shooters so we are both agreed that shooting is animal abuse then. Don't try to 'normalise' shooting and hunting. Shooting and hunting involves fear, pain, misery and eventual death for the animal. Hunters and shooters are mostly Neanderthals. The majority do it because they like killing defenceless animals, there's no argument, no justifications. Evolve." Shooting does not count as animal abuse. The aim is always for an instant kill, and it is done for a purpose, whether it's meat or pest control, which is vital for financially viable agriculture and wildlife conservation. If you can make a sport out it, fine. It is completely different to the documented cases of murderers torturing animals by, for example, beheading them. I do not need to normalise shooting because it is already perfectly normal. It is one of the best ways to get ethical meat - you can guarantee that the animal has a good life and a quick and painless death. Much better than factory farmed meat where the animals don't see the light of day. I assume you are a vegetarian or vegan? Shooting does not cause pain or misery to the animal, as the aim is for a clean kill. This is what makes shooting the most humane way to get meat. Shooters do not need to evolve at all. We are just as evolved as the rest of you. That last argument just shows that your argument is based on prejudice, not facts.

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  • twain1  |  October 24 2012, 10:27PM

    ReeceFowler And I'll defend the shooters right to to free speech because they are their own worse enemies. Any criticism of their activities is usually met with aggression and abuse, usually founded on their vivid imaginations. Also they were very 'animated' in their fox hunting riots weren't they? You will find many articles on the internet regarding animal abuse and murderers but I see you don't quibble about the animal and shooters so we are both agreed that shooting is animal abuse then. Don't try to 'normalise' shooting and hunting. Shooting and hunting involves fear, pain, misery and eventual death for the animal. Hunters and shooters are mostly Neanderthals. The majority do it because they like killing defenceless animals, there's no argument, no justifications. Evolve.

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  • ReeceFowler  |  October 24 2012, 8:29PM

    twain1, "W.H. Smith's decision is not only reasonable but responsible. The majority of murderers started their lamentable existence abusing animals. Shooting birds out of the air, bred for that very purpose, is abuse of the sickest variety. Just ask any game keeper about the birds not killed outright dragging their broken wings or with their entrails hanging out. Just watch the behaviour of those who think that killing is great fun. Indoctrinating children by providing a Supremacist's Neanderthal example that cruel animal abuse is unacceptable, nothing to do with any Political Correctness." Utter rubbish with no factual basis. Murderers have been known to, for example, behead cats. Are you seriously trying to compare that to shooting? There is simply no link whatsoever. There is no evidence that going shooting makes one a psychopath/murderer. If shooters are really psychopaths, how have any of them managed to get shotgun licenses? Indoctrinating children? Children buy the magazines if they want to, no one is forcing them to. The only ones indoctrinating children are the ones who want to deny them the right to see both sides of the argument. In this case, this would be animal aid and people such as yourself, who only want children to see Animal Aid's side of the argument. I do not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Why can't animal rights activists do the same with shooters? Instead of defending the shooters' right to say what they want, they actually try to silence them. As I said, shooting is a perfectly legitimate pastime. It teaches discipline, it is an ethical form of meat production, and has proven benefits for wildlife. WHSmith's decision is unacceptable and has a lot to do with political correctness.

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  • twain1  |  October 24 2012, 8:18PM

    W.H. Smith's decision is not only reasonable but responsible. The majority of murderers started their lamentable existence abusing animals. Shooting birds out of the air, bred for that very purpose, is abuse of the sickest variety. Just ask any game keeper about the birds not killed outright dragging their broken wings or with their entrails hanging out. Just watch the behaviour of those who think that killing is great fun. Indoctrinating children by providing a Supremacist's Neanderthal example that cruel animal abuse is unacceptable, nothing to do with any Political Correctness.

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